By David Alexander
Dates can be fraught with style and etiquette dangers. No need to worry — Joe Dandy is here to help. (No, not with getting the date! You can do that yourself by taking your dog for a walk, going to a bar, or browsing the bookstore; in short, get yourself closer to the type of people you want to be with.) This column is all about making the date perfect and dressing the part.
Guys, a caveat before we dig in: dates come in many variations, from taking your wife (or husband) out for a special night, to finally getting an evening with that really attractive lawyer two offices down. Different dates and different pressures, but both aiming for the same outcome: romance.
STEP 1: PLANNING THE DATE
You might love a day of paintball followed by hard ciders. And you might actually find the perfect person to join you in that pastime, but if that’s what you’re planning, give your date a bit of warning. There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up for a date in high heels and a little black dress, and discovering you’re going to be shot at with globules of paint.
When planning the date, think through what you want your date to experience and what they are going to enjoy. The possibilities are wide open: lunch and a matinee, feeding ducks at Beacon Hill Park, or a romantic meal followed by drinks. In the end you want your date to be impressed.
To help you tie up the romance, Joe Dandy talked with Jane Carstens, a professional matchmaker who sets up love for a living at Matchmaker for Hire. She cautions that “dates are delicate, just like a first kiss.” There is an art to dates and, she adds, “You can’t make a hasty move or try too hard.”
So play by the rules, boys.
“Keep it exciting without overdoing it, Carstens advises. “Don’t take your date to an isolated place. Play within your date’s comfort zone. And just don’t hang out together; keep it engaging.”
Do remember this: “The best date combination is comfort, excitement, and finally romance — in that order!”
STEP 2: DRESS THE PART
You’ve got the date figured out, right? So, not to go all Cosmo on you, but what are you going to wear? This is a date, so remember: you are dressing for love and to impress. Even if you have been together for 50 years and date night is a regular occurrence, nothing says unimpressed like sweatpants or tired denim.
A few things to keep in mind when perusing the wardrobe:
• Be comfortable: When dressing, think date not work. That power suit that makes your foes quiver at the office may not be the best thing to wear when you first meet someone. Instead, opt for something you are comfortable in. And new is not always best. That brand-spanking new sweater you just got that emphasizes everything just right and boosts confidence? It also may itch like hell and all of those positives are overshadowed by an evening of scratching.
• It’s okay to emphasize your manliness: Wear items that strengthen your positive attributes — and if you aren’t sure what they are, ask a female friend for help. Most blazers are cut to bring in the waist and broaden the shoulders, heightening your masculine traits. This alone might not make the evening a success, but it may help.
• Casual can still be stylish: You don’t need a tie to look fancied up. Wearing a sharp pair of jeans and a blazer with a crisp button-down shirt shows you can dress yourself but still have fun. An outfit like this works both during a dinner/movie date or a romantic lunch in the park.
• Polish your shoes: And do wear a decent pair of socks. If you do feel the need to go a little wild with your wardrobe, start with those socks. It’s the one area you can easily get away with and that flash of colour will show your date that you know your style. (And you never know when you’ll need to take your shoes off!)
• Get close with your nailbrush: Go the extra mile when it comes to grooming. Wash the nails, trim the nose hairs — show that you care. If this is a big deal date, get a haircut a week before. Just don’t get a haircut on the same day. You want to look good, you want to feel great in your skin; testing a new haircut — or worse yet, a new barber — on date day just adds stress. And remember, scent is great but should be subtle. Your date should catch a whiff if they get close to you but if they pass out you know you have gone too far.
In the end, planning and dressing for a date is all about making an effort and being yourself. Set up the date by planning wisely and appropriately, dress the part, and your charm will take you the rest of the way. Last bit of advice: don’t skimp on the underwear. Remember, romance is the goal.
STEP 3: SEAL THE DEAL WITH YOUR MANNERS
A well-planned date and stylish attire aren’t going to win you points if you are a mannerless oaf. Here are handy etiquette tips to seal the deal.
1. Be on time. Come on, a gentleman never leaves his date waiting!
2. Compliment often and sincerely. Who doesn’t like to be noticed?
3. Chivalry isn’t dead. Open doors, offer the best seat, and lend an arm if the ground is slippery.
4. Be in the now. Taking calls and texting during the date are not appropriate unless you are a surgeon and lives are at stake.
5. Focus on your partner. Ask questions and listen to their stories — no one enjoys a date that talks only about themselves.
STEP 4: FOLLOW THROUGH
Forget everything you’ve learned from TV: there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to date follow up. If you had a good time, let your date know — that night, the next morning, or maybe a couple of days later. And if you want another meet up, suggest it. Keep your fingers crossed that your date felt the same way.
Of course, if your date is your wife, you’ve already got it made but she might appreciate hearing you had a good time.
Remember, that perfect date doesn’t have to be complex. Says Carstens, “An ideal romantic date is one you’ll both love: go to a beach, an ideal spot for a romantic rendezvous.”
Think about doing things that will allow you to bond such as “a long walk along the shore, a stone skipping contest, or simply gazing at the waves while you chat casually and get to know each other better.”
Awww, the gushy stuff really does work!